If you’ve been keeping up with the Go Montana Forum, you are getting a glimpse of what some of our churches are doing to reach people with the gospel. The LoveLoudly initiative at Valley Baptist Church in Huntley is a perfect example of what can happen when a church decides it isn’t too small or too isolated to make a difference. Under the leadership of pastor Stan Bricker, the church has decided to adopt several smaller communities around them. They have conducted community service projects that introduce them to the communities and seek continually to share the gospel. The next step is to begin Bible studies in these outlying areas. These efforts may never produce self-sustaining congregations, but there are thousands of people spread out over vast distances who either need the gospel or fellowship and discipling with other believers. Valley Baptist recognizes that the area right around them is their first mission field.
On the other side of the state, The River Church in Hamilton has taken on a major project to help trafficked and vulnerable women reclaim their lives. Pastor Allen James and his wife Kristine are converting their former church building into a women’s shelter. They are working with their community’s law enforcement groups and doing everything necessary to prepare a loving, safe environment where broken, victimized women can heal, hear the gospel, and know the love of God. The church is gutting its old building and even adding onto it to make sure the women who come to them have everything they need to reclaim their lives with the help of God and this loving church.
Up in north central Montana, Immanuel Baptist Church in Havre has looked around for where they are needed and decided to work with First Baptist Church of Poplar to restart a reservation church. Immanuel’s pastor Chris Richards is so concerned about helping reach this community that he has started a boxing club for young Native Americans. The church brings these boys over every week for lessons in boxing and the gospel. The club gives the young boys some training in self-discipline, helps them develop confidence, and enables pastor Richards to share the love of Jesus and the gospel with them regularly.
Off to the northwest part of the state, two pastors have started feeding ministries to help them get in touch with people in their communities. Pastor Ken Bell of Outdoor Life Ministries in Missoula has found a food truck to borrow every week and he is bringing food to people along with the gospel. In Lincoln, new pastor Marshall Visger at Lincoln Baptist Church has started a Wednesday evening meal for the community. I was there recently and ate with about 30 other people around tables set up in the church’s small fellowship room. This is the very place where the church did well if they had a dozen people on Wednesday night. Relationships are being established and the gospel is being shared.
North of us, Lee Merck of Church of the Rockies in Red Lodge and Steve Fowler, the Yellowstone Association ministry leader, are in Edmonton, Alberta right now to begin developing relationships with Canadian Baptist pastors in that remote Canadian city. Church of the Rockies has recently adopted the city as one of its missions destinations. More of our churches will be following their lead as Steve brings back his report of the need and the opportunities for gospel ministry and witness in that city with more people in it than all of Montana.
These are just a few snapshots of what our Montana Baptist churches are doing. Every one of them is doing something different. They have looked at the needs around them, looked at what they can start doing with what they have, and tailored ministries uniquely suited for them and the communities God has put before them. What is more, all of our Montana Southern Baptist churches have helped with all of these ministries. Because of your Cooperative Program giving and your gifts to the State Missions Offering, the Montana Southern Baptist Convention had money available to assist with each of these ministries and staff available for counsel and to help find resources. Your giving makes a difference, and Montana is seeing the results.
What can you do with where you are and the means at your disposal? I can assure you that you can do more. Need some ideas? Go to the resources section of Go Montana at www.gomtsbc.org to get your creative juices flowing. Get in touch with one of the resource people listed there and ask them how to get started. Then, when you have an idea, reach out to your MTSBC staff and tell us what you need. We may very well be able to help with money, workers, or materials. We are all limited only by our lack of imagination. Ask God to show you more, and He will. Ask God to give you more souls, and He will show you how to reach them. God wants to save the lost. He has called us into partnership with Himself to do that. Don’t be the weak link. Go Montana!